Morning y’all. 

Well with Arsène’s presser yesterday we were treated to an update on player availability and thankfully, we appear to be having some centre halves returning, which is nice given we play three at the back and last weekend we decided to go with two left backs in the middle.

Of course we all know it was enforced due to injury and lack of match fitness, but the confirmation of the return of Big Per and Mustafi is good news for us all, because we all saw how despite the admirable job done by our left backs they really aren’t central defenders and it showed with a couple of goals.

Again the manager was asked about Alexis and again he reiterated that he’s going to take the free transfer gamble next summer. Fair enough. Looks like he’s happy to go balls out on this one so we have to start looking at the team with a view to seeing it operate with Alexis in it. That won’t happen until at least Liverpool in 2 and a half weeks time though, because the Chilean is a ‘bit short’ (no pun intended) for the weekend.

So overall it’s better news and when you’re up against a partisan crowd like those in Mordor, you kind of want your round pegs in your round holes. Let’s hope that’s what we see come Saturday tea time.

What we’re unlikely to see is Gabriel in an Arsenal shirt again, as the angry-looking Brazilian is essentially a Valencia player by the sounds of it. I first heard about this about two weeks ago and yet there was nothing really in the press until this week, so it shows you just how long these deals bubble under the surface. But Gabs will be gone and it does beg the question: who’s next?

Gabriel was hardly one of the players so many of us have touted as being one of those we need to shift, but putting two and two together, you’d have to say that it looks like we are at the stage where any player who isn’t in the managers first XI must be up for sale right now simply by virtue of the fact that our squad is too big. It just surprises me that Gabriel is the first out the door given that he seemed to be carving a niche in this side as one of the back three and certainly looked better in the revised formation towards the end of the season. 

Good luck to him though and hopefully he makes a good career for himself at Valencia. Farewell Gabs; you came, you had shenanigans with Costa, you scowled, you left. We’ll always look upon you with affection as Arsenal fans.

With him going it has made me wonder about Chambers though. Not included last weekend, we’ve heard that he’s being made available for the right cash, yet we’ve just sold Gabriel. Why? With a back three as the formation you’d have to say that you need six centre halves for the number of games we play, which to my mind makes it:

  1. Koscielny
  2. Mustafi
  3. Mertesacker
  4. Holding
  5. Monreal (as a stand in)
  6. Chambers

I know Kolasinac can fit in too, but do we really want to have two stand-ins for the three positions? I hope not. It didn’t work against Leicester and I doubt it’ll work against better teams that we’ll face this season. So what’s the option if Chambers isn’t in favour any more? 

Or course I don’t specifically know that he isn’t in favour at this stage. He hasn’t featured yet, which is why I have figured he’s gone and he didn’t play for the under-23s either, but as somebody said to me last night on Twitter – it might be because he’s been given time to return slowly given he played the whole season and then went to the under-21s. That’s my faint hope anyway. I’ve said on this blog a few times that I rate him and I’d like to see him given a crack at the back three. 

Of course there could be another reason he’s being shipped out, which is that Wenger is moving to a back four, which I’m sure you’ll join me in hoping that’s not the case. The back three gives us a stability that we’ve seriously lacked with the 4-2-3-1. It gets the best out of players like Xhaka and Ramsey, who haven’t worked as the two anchor points in the midfield in the 4-2-3-1. It gives protection for Mertesacker and allows Mustafi to be more aggressive higher up the field in the tackle. It looked good on Alexis and Özil and this summer even Iwobi has looked better in it. For the players we have right now it works. So to change that by the manager just because he believes it compromises some of his attacking identity as a free-flowing manager is farcical if you ask me. We haven’t played swashbuckling, lightning quick passing, counter-attacking and exciting football on a regular basis for years now. So we might as well build from a foundation of solidity that makes us less easier to carve open. 

Three at the back was one of the primary reasons we won the cup last season. It’s what saved Arsène his job and I would be astonished (but not surprised, sadly) if he reverted to four unless it’s for an in-game, ALL THE FORWARDS! style, formation change when we’re chasing down the points in the league or the cup.

To my mind that means that Chambers has to be brought back in to the fold, given the chance to prove himself, then see if he can surprise a few people. 

Until tomorrow, you lovely, lovely people.